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Reverse Auction Pilot Program Saves Money

The National Resources Conservation Service held a reverse auction to enroll 3,500 acres in the Wetland Reserve Program.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has enrolled 3,500 acres in the Wetlands Reserve Program via a reverse auction program, NRCS Chief Arlen Lancaster announced Thursday.

"The WRP reverse auction is an innovative, market-based approach. These results show we can increase the nation's wetlands through expanded public-private efforts and at less cost," said Lancaster.

The reverse auction, currently a pilot program, saved nearly $820,000 in the 2006 fiscal year by reducing easement acquisition costs by 14%. WRP is a voluntary enrollment program designed to restore and enhance wetland ecosystems.

Landowners interested in enrolling acres in WRP conducted environmental self-assessments and submitted sealed bids. NRCS prioritized applications according to an environmental benefits index, dividing landowner bid by environmental self-assessment scores.

After the ranking process, NRCS notified applicants of their rank and provided an opportunity for them to submit a lower bid which would then be used to develop final funding selections.

The reverse auction pilot program took place in selected counties in Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Idaho, California and Colorado.

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